‘Genocide’ row ‘won’t wreck Turkey ties’

Turks protest outside the German Consulate in Istanbul, 2 Jun 16, against German approval of a resolution recognising the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocideImage copyright

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Turkish protesters made the nationalist “Grey Wolves” sign outside the German Consulate in Istanbul

Turkey’s prime minister has condemned as a “historic error” Germany’s vote to recognise the 1915 massacre of Armenians as genocide, but said it will not wreck the two countries’ ties.

“No-one should expect that relations will suddenly deteriorate completely because of this decision,” Binali Yildirim said.

Turkey recalled its envoy to Germany in protest against the resolution passed by German MPs on Thursday.

It promised to take “necessary steps”.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their people died in the atrocities committed by Ottoman Turks in 1915, during World War One.

Turkey says the toll was much lower and rejects the term “genocide”.

More than 20 countries, including France and Russia, recognise the 1915 massacre as “genocide”, as do most non-Turkish scholars of the period.

QA: Armenian genocide dispute

Armenian ‘genocide’ vote ignites press

The Bundestag [German lower house] vote heightens German-Turkish tensions at a time when Turkey’s help is needed to control migrant arrivals.

The resolution – adopted overwhelmingly – uses the word “genocide” in the headline and text. It also says Germany, at the time an ally of the Ottomans, bears some guilt for doing nothing to stop the killings.

The condemnation by Turkish politicians was widespread, including a joint statement by the ruling AK Party and two opposition parties which spoke of “indignation in the Turkish nation”.

However, Mr Yildirim stressed that “Germany and Turkey are two very important allies”. An estimated three million people of Turkish origin live in Germany.

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Some Armenian community leaders in Germany attended the Bundestag debate

The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said the resolution would seriously affect relations with Germany, and that the government would consider further measures in response to the vote.

In a clear reference to Germany’s Nazi past, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted: “The way to close the dark pages in your own history is not by besmirching the history of other countries with irresponsible and groundless parliamentary decisions.”

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “There is a lot that binds Germany to Turkey and even if we have a difference of opinion on an individual matter, the breadth of our links, our friendship, our strategic ties, is great.”

Armenian genocide dispute

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Arguments have raged for decades about the Armenian deaths in 1915-16

  • Hundreds of thousands of Christian Armenians died in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, whose empire was disintegrating
  • Many of the victims were civilians deported to barren desert regions where they died of starvation and thirst. Thousands also died in massacres
  • Armenia says up to 1.5 million people were killed. Turkey says the number of deaths was much smaller
  • Turkey rejects the term “genocide”, maintaining that many of the dead were killed in clashes during WWI and that many ethnic Turks also suffered in the conflict

Armenian tragedy still raw in Turkey

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